How To Play Better Live
- 29th March 2018
Before you play arenas and festivals, you have to know how to put on a show. Here's 5 tips to help you play better live!
We’ve all been there. Stood on stage in some dingy bar, in front of twelve people, shaking in your boots. But this, of course, is not what people want to see. People want to be entertained, it’s not just about the music. People can dance to music they hate in the right atmosphere. So how exactly do you create a great live atmosphere, and smash the hell out of that dingy bar? Here are 5 ways to play better live.
1) Act Confident.
Easier said than done, right? The saying goes ‘fake it till you make it’. This can actually be of some use on stage. Even if you are not fully confident in yourself, or if stage fright is nipping at the backs of your knees, you need to act confident. Portraying the image of a confident musician (even if you are screaming on the inside) is far more entertaining to watch than a someone stood in one place, shivering and not able to make eye contact with your audience.
That is another great point, but unfortunately, we only have room for 5! Make eye contact with your audience. Stare into their souls. Connect with them. If you are constantly staring at your feet (no offence to any shoegaze bands out there) the audience is going to find it hard to relate to you.
2) Interact With Your Crowd.
This is a tricky one. You need to speak to your audience, but you need to remember that you’re not a comedy act. People have come to hear your music, not listen to your inside jokes about your drummer’s mother. Talk to your audience, not to each other. Don’t make fun of each other on stage. Don’t say ‘please can everyone please come closer please’, because that will make people feel even more uncomfortable about moving forward.
Make sure to mention your band name a few times. You’d be amazed at how many bands don’t actually mention their name, and just assume that everyone already knows it. People are fickle, they’re probably not gong to go out of their way to find you if they can’t remember your name. Ask your audience how they are, but not after every song. Don’t go overboard on how many people you have to thank. Chill.
Check out our review of The Blinders for a band who know how to do crowd interaction right!
This is an easy one. Even if you are too nervous to do too much, a simple manoeuvre round a 5 square foot area is more than fine. But again, don’t go too mad. Unless that works for you, in which case go for it. The confidence will come with time, so start off easy, and you will eventually hit your stride. Walking around the stage helps, but try not to look like an idiot.
Don’t walk across the bar unless your sure the audience is down for it, and only if you’re positive you can make it across. Time after time a guitarist has climbed on the bar to solo, thinking he is Jimi Hendrix, and fallen flat on his face. Try and avoid that.
4) Avoid Stage Death.
Stage death is when the stage has been totally devoid of music for five seconds. That sounds like no time, right? People have short attention spans, and will lose interest in you after approximately that amount of time. It is also hard to recover from stage death, once people have lost interest, it can be difficult to get the momentum going again.
There are numerous ways to avoid stage death. The first one is to plan out what you are all doing. Who is saying what, which songs are going to go straight into each other, things like that. While your singer is tuning, have the bass player say something. If the guitarist needs to change his string, have an eight-bar drum solo. Whatever works to keep the positive attention of your crowd. For more info about stage death, and advice on how to avoid it, click here!
5) Be Prepared.
This should come without saying, right? Bands and artists CANNOT go on stage without being prepared. If you are not 100% tight with your songs, don’t go on stage. If you don’t know which one of your nine guitarists are playing the solo this week, sort it. Make sure all of your songs are as perfect as they are ever going to be, and most important of all, NEVER play a song that you haven’t practised enough.
You’d be surprised at how many artists don’t follow this advice, and just go on stage and give a bad performance. You can be confident, connect with your audience, have great stage presence and still be crap if you are not musically prepared.
So that’s 5 tips for improving your live shows. There are many more things to consider, but for simply improving the way you perform, you won’t go far wrong with these.